By Mark Squibb/November 4, 2021
A suggestion by new councilor Perry Bowering that council approach the provincial government about upgrades to the stretch of Route 70 that serves as the town’s main road was met with much approval from council last week.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever had, as a town, discussions with our MHA or whoever, but if we have, then we should have more now about the condition of that four lane, camel’s back I’ll call it,” said Bowering.
Mayor Walter Yetman said he agreed “200 percent.”
“Can we put something in a motion to get a meeting set up and push these guys, that we’re not going to allow this coming through our town?” continued Bowering. “There’s got to be people coming out of Tim Horton’s with first and second degree burns from their coffee after driving that road.”
Bowering made the motion to set up the meeting as soon as possible. Councilor Silas Badcock seconded it.
The issue of the road’s condition is not a new one.
“In the eight years that I’ve been on council, I think every year that road has come up, in all honesty,” said councilor Dean Franey. “And that doesn’t take away from councilor Bowering bringing it up, because it is a big issue. Every year we see the politics of pavement happening all over Newfoundland, and we see air strips being put in places that get 100 cars a week, and we have a highway up there that gets 1,500 to 1,800 cars a day, and probably contributes millions of dollars to the provincial economy in taxes and income taxes and GST and HST and whatnot, and the road is deplorable. But we’ve also been maybe a bit too nice going after this road, and I think we have to be a bit louder. We have to be a bit more aggressive. Because it’s getting ridiculous. That road is almost an embarrassment. And I think it’s time we make more noise and be that squeaky wheel.
“We have the facts behind us,” asserted Mayor Yetman. “We have our traffic study done, and that traffic study was done maybe four or five years ago, and the numbers have probably increased since then. The tax revenue and the provincial share from that highway alone, and the businesses up there, certainly justifies upgrades to that road.”
Franey indicated he won’t be satisfied with government just coming in and doing a half effort.
“I’m not satisfied to see Transportation and Works dump asphalt out of a dump truck or a loader and then drive over it with the front end of the dump truck,” said Franey.
Other members of council, including Deputy Mayor Geoff Seymour (who complimented Franey’s ‘politics of paving’ quip) voiced their agreement.
“I think we have just been too passive on pushing this agenda for too long,” said Seymour. “And it’s time to take this to another level.”
Yetman asked the planning committee to come up with a plan for the next council meeting.
Bowering asked if members of council not on the committee can attend that meeting.
Yetman said that depends, adding council will be updated as to the when and where of the meeting with government.
Town CAO Nigel Black, meanwhile, said that heavy turnover within the provincial government has created challenges in moving ahead with upgrades.
“In the last four years, we’ve had three different ministers of Transportation, and every one of them we met with, and then three months later, there would be a new one in and we had to circle around the wheel again,” said Black.
Franey hinted he was fairly certain those ministers probably saw pavement laid in their own districts.
With that, Yetman brought the discussion to an end.